Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ups and Downs

I've had some amazing highs and lows over the past few weeks since we spoke last. I was lucky enough to be chosen as an Stanford Medicine X ePatient Honor Scholar. I love that I was described as being "persistently disruptive yet positive advocate." Medicine X was life changing, it rocked me to my core and galvanized my resolve to be a difference maker in the world of healthcare, not just for amputees, but for everyone. I was then asked to take part in a Google Hangout discussing my time at Medicine X and the lessons learned there. You can see the video here MedX Live Hangout

Now some of the lows I've experienced. Many of you know I have had a dream of becoming a flight medic well before my accident, I have wanted to fly. I had the opportunity to interview with a very prestigious flight service, and although my interview went extremely well, I was passed over for another medic who had years of flight experience. I can't blame them for their decision. I know, being a manager once before, I would have made the same decision. I remain unemployed for the Christmas season, and there's the kicker. How do you make sure your kids have a wonderful Christmas, pay your bills, and still have enough for the other little essentials like food and gas...that's where we are now. Kate is working, but without my income to help, I feel like I'm trying to dig a hole in the sand, the deeper I get the more sand pours in from the top. We've been blessed to have our family help us and keep us at least treading water, but I feel like I'm sinking and just want to fix it...I hope to have this solved by the new year. I've always been the eternal optimist and continue to be so; I know things look bleak but that's just today, I will have another opportunity to use my talents, I just have to find the right fit.

I'm still waiting on my socket from Otto know the one I was supposed to have months ago so I can stop having these hives break out on my leg everytime I put my prosthetic on...yeah that one...I'm told it has made it to the US, in fact it is in Minnesota at Otto Bock they are holding it up in order to build the frame there. My prosthetist has asked that it be sent to his office so he can make the frame himself, which would be done quicker than how they are doing it. I'm just stuck...waiting....I've lost a job, I can only wear this amazing piece of technology a few hours a day before it becomes too painful...I'm just in this holding pattern. So I wait...

While I wait I start to write, I've been trying to take time here and there to jot down this journey that I've been on, in a little deeper detail than I have here, looking back at the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am, and the dreams I have for where I will go from here. To start, I've applied for Stanford Medicine X again this year, only instead of just going as a blogger, I have applied to go as a presenter. Last year the Ignite speeches, from some of the other patients at the conference, were some of the most powerful experiences of my life. I want to be a part of that. I want to get out and speak out about my story and about the Medical Injustice of the Prosthetic Industry...namely the insurance industry. How much would you pay for your leg? Your arm? Your ability to walk, or pick up your child, or just simply stand much is that worth to you? Now, realize that the prosthetic that could change your life, is lumped into the category of "Durable Medical Equipment" a category that also houses bedside commodes and wheelchairs. Then realize that most insurance agencies only pay $2000 for a lifetime or will only pay for one prosthetic per lifetime. I want to change this. I want parity for everyone, not just Kentucky, everyone. This is where I am headed. This is my goal now. I want to remain a paramedic, and I hope I can go fly, but I want it to be my means to an end...the end being a change in how we view amputees as a society and how we let money decide what limb is best.

Do you want to have the Stanford Medicine X experience? Do you have an idea on how to change healthcare? Are you an active participant in your care? If you can answer yes to any of these you should apply for an ePatient Scholarship to attend Stanford Medicine X 2014...but hurry the application deadline is January 10th

Apply to attend Medicine X here...Tell em the Prosthetic Medic Sent Ya!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Defeat...Maybe Not

It's been awhile since I've sat down to write. It's not that I haven't been able to, I simply haven't wanted to. I've been, as my wife puts it, "in the bell jar." I few weeks ago I was forced to resign from my job. That left me questioning what I was doing with my life. Where do I go from here? I spent so much time and energy fighting to get back to work as a paramedic, I never stopped to plan for what happens if I have to stop...In a sense, I have been defeated. I'm in a holding pattern, waiting on a socket to make its way from Germany to Kentucky. Due to an allergic reaction I am stuck only wearing my leg for a few hours a day. When I take it off, I'm covered in hives on my stump...needless to say this is a little more than uncomfortable. I'm hoping that the new socket will be here sometime this week and I'll be able to start looking for gainful employment again. I am not meant to sit at home, but that leaves the question...what do I do? I long to be in an ambulance, so I need to find a way to still make runs, but have the time I need to heal when it's necessary. A lofty goal indeed.

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends we've been able to pay our bills for another month. The sudden loss of income couldn't have struck at a worse time. Here we are in the holiday season and we're starting from well behind where we should be. I'm determined that I will do whatever necessary to rise up from this again. I fought my way back to the ambulance, against the odds some might say. So why not apply that same determination to finding a job that allows me to fulfill my goals with my physical realizations.

I want to end tonight by thanking you all. You have all supported me throughout this rollercoaster life over the past year. Kate and I have been wrought with ups and downs throughout all of this. I was given the advice once that "you know you're doing the right thing if every step you take you have to fight for it." Well, we are fighting once again. I promise, I will find whatever lesson there is to be learned from this latest pitfall and come out stronger than I was.

Until then, thank you for your support and if you know of anyone in need of the uneven point of view a one legged medic could bring let me know.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unemployment and Dante's Inferno

I've been contemplating the beginning of Dante's Inferno quite a lot lately. You see, in the beginning of the Divine Comedy Dante finds him self trudging along life's path to suddenly realize he's lost in a "yellow wood." Lost and alone he comes across a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. After all these trials he is rewarded with a guided tour though Hell.

And here I am...I find myself for the first time in a year to be unemployed (more than I can get into at this time). I am Dante, only I faced the beasts to get where I was, and now I find myself lost in a Yellow Wood.

I'm faced with the terrifying aspect of not being a "traditional" paramedic. I haven't allowed myself to entertain this thought since I made the decision to have my amputation. It has sent my entire life into a tailspin. Not only my life, but honestly my family's life as well. I find myself constantly asking myself "now what?" sadly, I can't answer that. I could return to college and try a different degree...but what in. This is all I know. This is what I'm good at; it's where I feel I belong. I ache for the speed and bright lights. I'm at my best when others are at their worst...that doesn't really translate into a 9-5 office setting.

That being said, I have to weigh the option that I may have to move on. I just don't know where or how at this point. I've thought about becoming a prosthetist, making prosthetics for others, but that is a long tedious process. Honestly, I just don't know. I'm not sure...this is a feeling I don't know what to do with. So here I am...lost wondering in dark yellow wood, just waiting for my Virgil to be my guide and show me the way out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Optimism for Activism

As the high from Medicine X comes crashing down I am left with an unbridled spirit of optimism. An optimism that the lofty goals set out by a few can be accomplished to help the many. Most of us never think about what would happen if we were to come down with a catastrophic illness or suffer through a debilitating injury. The problem is that this happens daily. There are roughly 185,000 new amputations each year in the US, that breaks down to roughly 5 people out of 1000. Go to a any professional sports game, there are roughly 25,000 in the crowd, that equals 25 of those people gaining new amputations for various injuries. The issue we have is that if you're unlucky enough to be one of these 25 people and live in one of the 30 states that does not offer prosthetic fairness then you should be prepared for an uphill battle. I know because I fought this battle. Amazingly, I fought this battle and won. I won because I had the power of social media behind me. For those who are new to my blog a brief synopsis. I was denied my prosthetic by an insurance company who does not cover microprocessor knees. After blogging here about my plight, the readers and my brothers and sisters in public safety took to my fight. Together we fought against the insurance juggernaut and forced a change in rhetoric. I am odd in this...sadly, this is not the normal way these stories pan out. No...the way this story normally ends is that the amputee is given a substandard knee that allows them to "function." A word I have come to hate. me this word says that it will work, but barely. If you had a car that just functioned then you'd probably look for a better car, one that not only functions but has the bells and whistles you need to enjoy your ride. So, why wouldn't you want that with something as vital as a prosthetic. No functioning doesn't lend itself to living.

If you look at most insurance protocols for prosthetics you would see that they lump them in the same category as bedside commodes and crutches; they call it "durable medical equipment." Most cap the spending on these items at $2,000, sometimes more, sometimes less. If you're lucky your insurance company will cover a prosthetic but limit you to two for a lifetime. If you have a child who happens to suffer an amputation, depending on age, they could need 10 times the approved amount. This is unacceptable.

Now, lets counter this with a state with prosthetic fairness. Your physician writes you a prescription for a prosthetic that matches your activity level. You get that prosthetic. It's as simple as that...well there will be hoops to jump through. You have to prove why this prosthetic will benefit your life. Trust me. It will and it's easy to prove.

I know. It's not free. It will take some input from everyone. In Kentucky, we looked at the financial impact such a bill would have on the taxpayer. In Kentucky, it would equal out to somewhere between 5-8 cents per person. A negligible increase on your premium.

Now, my goal is not only get this passed in my state, but to get this into the national spotlight. This needs to be passed nationally. We need to come together and push. Call your Senator, Call your Representative, Be proactive...and as I learned at Stanford...Stories change things. Patient stories will be the shoulders that carry this bill. Our voices will be heard, our voices can change the world...

Until next time.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Medicine X...A world of Changes sparked by a new idea!-

I've been home for a few days now. Slowly, I'm making my way back into my normal life...but that's the difference. It's not my normal life. Something changed. I discovered a passion, a spark, that I did not know I was capable of. I have called myself an "accidental activist," I quite literally fell into standing up for others in my position. I didn't not plan on taking this path, and I acted as such. I wrote my blog, I spoke out when I could, I did what I could when it was possible to work that into my schedule. In Palo Alto, California I discovered that I need to me much more active. As I wrote before, I was most taken aback by being included in the same company as these titans of advocacy. I still can't believe my name could be brought up in such company.

These were not the only lessons learned. I gained a new respect for "Participatory Medicine." The thought that a patient can be, and should be, the expert of their own care. This education often comes at the patient's own expense. Not only through personal expense, but mental anguish, personal strife, and in the best of cases personal triumph. Triumph was what I heard most while at medicine X. Patients of all socioeconomic backgrounds, encompassing a myriad of chronic illnesses. These people are more than survivors. Surviving lends itself to barely making it through. No, these amazing advocates are truly living, not in spite of their illness, but in conjunction with it. Then I had an epiphany. Amputees ARE chronic patients. When looked at through the traditional sense, a chronic illness is just that. An illness that doesn't go away, often with increasing complications as time goes on and no currently known cure. As an amputee, there is obviously no cure, the only difference is I wear my medicine. My medication is my ability to interact with the world, I display it proudly, a badge of honor that I am not a survivor, but I am living.

I was able to interact and network with some amazing physicians, leaders of industry, and various other caretakers. Hearing of amazing innovations, new viewpoints of the patient/physician interaction, and ways to track your own healthcare data. What I enjoyed most about Medicine X was that the patient was front and center. We held a prominent place at the front of the room, able to directly interact with the various speakers and presentations. Every aspect was to show the importance of the viewpoint of the patient. Increasing awareness of the various chronic illnesses, but not actually focusing on the illness itself. No, for the first time in my medical career, the patient was more than their respective ailment. We were once again people, our ailments only a portion of who we are, fully integrated into our lives, but not dominating it. The way the healthcare experience should be...the way Medicine X convinced me it could be with the right education.

I'll have more later, I'm still digesting the massive amount of information.

Until Next Time...PM

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Medicine X...I'm not in Kentucky anymore

As Medicine X draws to a close I’m finally in a place where I can kinda write about what I’ve experienced. This has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It’s been informative, fun, overw…helming, emotionally and mentally draining…and so much more that I don’t have the words for.
When I stop to think about what this conference represents, I’m very pleased to report that for the first time in my medical career I’ve met a group of people (read as physicians, administrators, patients, business owners, and various others) that share a vision of healthcare where patients are given all options and physicians work for patients; not the other way around. Yet this was not the most amazing part of the entire conference. Over the next few days I will expand more on the amazing lessons I learned from the speakers and classes I attended here…that’s not what this blog is about right now…no this about the “ePatient” experience.
As I boarded my plane in Louisville, I was excited and nervous…I haven’t flown since I lost my leg and expected an enormous hassle dealing with our lovely TSA agents…Luckily, I was wrong. The transition through security was smooth and easy. Once I made it to North Carolina…the nerves had turned into a feeling of uncertainty and expectation…then a wonderful surprise happened.  In the row behind me sat a mother with a young child, he may have been 3 years old…the mother was upset that she wouldn’t be able to sit with her husband and older child…a bubbly blond sitting next to her husband graciously gave up her seat so they could be reunited…that blond was Emily; otherwise known as the blogger at Chronic Curve…Emily is in her early 20’s and has been fighting an uphill battle with a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis. We had only met once, and that was on a google hangout. Yet, when we saw each other it was like seeing an old friend. She sat behind me on the plane and suddenly that nervous expectation turned again, only this time into anticipated excitement. We didn’t speak much on the plane. It was a long flight and both of us tried to sleep to save our energy for our upcoming adventure.
Once the plane landed, we made plans to meet up with another ePatient. We decided to take advantage of being in San Fran and go on a tour. It was beautiful and very tiring. It was great to see the bridge and all the beautiful scenery, but we quickly realized that 3 people with varying health issues maybe should have rested a bit more before tackling such a large endeavor. We had hiccups in navigating the public transportation system, but all in all it was fun.
Friday and Saturday was mentally and emotionally draining. I’ve met some amazing people who are navigating the minefield of chronic illness, healthcare, and owning their own data…They are the driving force behind Medicine X. This is my initial take away from this conference. Yes, the panels and lectures have been beyond amazing. I have been in a metaphorical downpour of information, it’s been overwhelming at times, and it’s very welcome…yet the patient experience is what I take away.
I walked into Medicine X seeing myself as a healthcare provider/patient; yet while here I had an epiphany…I’m listening to all these amazing people open their hearts about their battle with chronic illness and disease, and realized that I met the definition for a “chronic” patient. I’d never thought of myself this way. Sure, I’m an amputee, but I’m not sick…yet when I paused to reflect I realized that…my leg isn’t growing back. I’m chained to my diagnosis for the rest of my life, this was a punch to the gut…I think over the last few years since my accident I hadn’t taken the time to really adjust my self image. Now I’m faced with looking within to see that yes…for the rest of my life I’m stuck…not just myself, but my family, my wife, my kids, everyone around me has now been enrolled in the chronic caregiver role. Yes, I will have fewer issues than many of my counterparts (and I’m thankful for this), but I was faced with the realization that my condition (and that of the millions of other amputees) directly effects those we love. Here is why I loved this conference…in the middle of this identity crisis, I am surrounded with incredible stories of success. I’m blessed to see how others have that will to live; I purposely did not use the word survive here, survival speaks to barely making it and holding on by a string…no, these empowered patients that surround me truly live.  So if you were to ask me what I gained from Medicine X 2013…the first things that come to mind are that I am more than my diagnosis. I am not just an amputee, but a whole host of labels that I wear with pride. I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a paramedic, a joker, I am all these things and more…I just happen to have had an amputation and now a prosthetic. Secondly, and most importantly, I was able to witness firsthand the incredible difference between surviving and living. Living involves integrating your disease process into your life and then leading the life you want instead of the life you have.  I have seen the power of an informed and empowered patient and that a small group of people will change the world…we may just have to take small breaks to rest.

I’ll be back in a few days to recap the educational experiences…
Thank you again to @AfternoonNapper, @Iam_spartacus, @HurtBlogger, @Larrychu, and especially @MedicineX


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Last Call...

Today was rough, but not because of the usual reasons. was rough because it was one of those days that every public servant dreads...Today we laid one of our own to rest. Paramedic Christopher Pickerell passed away on September 7th. It was a beautiful service. An honor fitting of the man. I think Chris' best friend said it best..."Chris wasn't perfect, but Chris was real." That statement stuck with me...the same thing could be said for any number of us, yet when applied to Paramedic Pickerell, it was beyond fitting. Chris was real...sometimes to a fault. At times it seemed that he lacked that filter that most of us learn as we mature. He was a sometimes whimsical mix of adult and kid...sometimes that kid would speak before the adult could censor the outcome. This was Chris...and this is why many of us were honored to call him our friend.

The memorial service ended, as most public safety funerals do, with "The Last Call." Since I know many of my readers aren't public safety workers I will explain. In this line of work, your radio is your lifeline. No matter what is going on you answer the radio, it's ingrained in all of us to the point that to not answer the radio is borderline painful. During the last call the dispatcher attempts to contact the fallen responder a few times...each time met by silence. After the last attempt a brief synopsis of the person's career is given followed by some variation of "we will now hold you out of service for the remainder, your shift is over, we have coverage from here, rest in peace and god bless." Simply typing these words puts chills up my back. This is the end most of us know is on the horizon but fear and pray our family (both biological and throughout the extended brotherhood of public safety) never have to hear. It's a beautiful sentiment and a grim reminder of the mortality each of us face. Today we laid to rest another amazing person...not just a paramedic, but a husband, father, son, friend, brother...etc...this list could continue on.

So for tonight this is all I have to sure to tell those around you how you feel. Tell them you love them, hold them close, always say what you mean (Chris never had a problem with this one), and most importantly live life.

Goodbye to Paramedic Pickerell...You served your region with pride, rest easy brother. You're 10-7 for the remainder...we will cover the rest from here. God bless and God Speed....

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Everyday Superman

Who was your favorite superhero growing up? Was it Spiderman? Batman? Who...what drew you to liking that particular hero? Was it their cool nonchalant ability to mitigate any situation no matter how impossible it seemed? I was always drawn to Superman. Not for the obvious reasons...although what boy didn't want to fly or have x-ray I liked that Superman was his alterego. With all the other superheros they became avengers as a change from their normal selves. Not Superman. No, his alterego was Clark Kent. That's how he saw the human's a poingent moment when you realize that. I have heard this compairison made before, so I cannot take credit for thinking this up...although as a child I remeber liking this about Superman. He pulled back his ability to seem less than he really was. He made himself look weak and unassuming because that's how he saw the world.

I'm sure you're wondering what that diatribe was about...well, it's a great social commentary. We all have the ability to be more than we are on the outside. To many people, I'm sure you already are. Being in the healthcare field is an excellent chance to see the human race at it's best and worst. I've seen superhuman boughts of strength from the most unassuming places; not always physical strength either, no I'm speaking of emotional toughness here. We've all heard the stories of a distraught  mother who lifted a car off of their child, but what you rarely hear about is the emotional strength of the family members involved in chronic healthcare issues. These are the real superheros. These are the amazing stories that never make the front page. From my own personal life, the incredible strength of my wife and family amazes me. They have supported me through my time in the hospital until now. Supporting my advocacy and various causes that I have championed since my amputation.

So this post is a huge thank you to all those supermen and women out there. The unsung heroes that are behind the scenes. All of us, have the ability to step's just being willing to step outside the box and have these amazing people in your corner.

4 Amazing Adovocates...

Just completed my first "Google Hangout" with the other members of the Patient NeXt panel  discussion slated for Friday at Medicine X. It's going to be amazing. I have the pleasure of speaking with an incredible group of people. It's amazing how despite varying medical issues, some topics are global. I look forward to updating everyone from the floor at MedX and can't wait to meet these amazing people at Stanford.

Please check out the blogs of the other panel members, each of them are amazing patient advocates:

It's an honor to be listed amongst these 4 amazing people. Please check out their blogs and show them some support.

I'm working on another post for later tonight or tomorrow...till then.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

She's still here...

An open letter to my wife:

If you look in the dictionary under difficult you will find my picture, well, you should find my picture. I'm not an easy person to live with, I'm always reaching out, trying to help, stretching myself thin...which in turn stretches my family thin. I try to balance being a husband,a dad, a paramedic, a supervisor, an amputee activist, a friend, a son, a brother...etc. As you can see the list goes on and on. No matter how hard I try something on this list is going to suffer neglect as I try to keep all the titles in the air,and from time to time I drop the ball. This is where the amazing part comes in...she's always there. Always. 

On May 8th, 2011, as I lay in Room 9 at University Hospital I begged her to leave me. It's one of the few memories I have from being in the trauma room. I begged for her until she was there, then I begged her to move on with her life without me. She deserved better...but she was there, as always. When I had my leg amputated, once again I tried to convince her she deserved better than me, she didn't need to spend her time taking care of me...she told me to shut up...and she was still there. 

When our son was born,well a few days after, when I realized how difficult it was going to be to care for an infant on one leg, realized that the night time care would fall to her...she didn't she's still here. 

That brings us to today. I've got several fires burning. I'm trying to balance all these things and keep up appearances, and when I feel like I'm failing. She's here. I haven't given her the credit she deserves. Yes, I have a lot of people in my life that have stood by me, my family and friends have been here as well. Yet, in those quiet moments, when I'm having an off day and hate everything that I've been through, hate my prosthetic and the circumstance that has led me to this existence...I can always count on her to remind me that against all odds...I'm still here, and so is she. 

As I prepare to continue on this journey, I felt I needed to take a moment to peek behind the curtain and say with all certainty...behind all my successes there is an even more amazing and successful woman that I am blessed enough to get to call my wife. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Working Locally Thinking Nationally

First's the link to the news story from yesterday, for those of you outside of the Louisville area.
WDRB Fox 41 News Story

It's been an interesting past 24 hours. In the time since the story aired, I've had several donations to the Stanford Trip Fund, but more importantly I've been contacted by several people stating that they will be keeping an eye on this trip and look forward to my report when I get back. I'm hoping that I can take the many lessons learned from Medicine X and apply them at both the local and national level.

For the last year, we have been looking at getting the prosthetic parity laws passed at a state level, and while this would be great for the thousands of amputees here in Kentucky, it does very little for amputees nationally...the solution; band together as a group. GO NATIONAL!!! There are several groups that are looking into pushing this prosthetic parity (fairness) law on a congressional stage. With the looming Obamacare changes (like them or not, I won't go into that now), it seems very likely that an addendum could be added into the language, or a whole new law all together.

Ah well...that's a fight for another day...but will be fought none the less.

Until next time...If you have the ability please consider donating to the airfare fund above. Every little bit helps


Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Interview on Fox 41

For my readers in the Louisville area, tune into Fox 41 (WDRB) tonight at 10 PM to watch my new interview. I'll be speaking about my upcoming trip to Stanford for the Medicine X conference, Kentucky's Prosthetic Parity (Prosthetic Fairness Bill), and the future of Prosthetics in America. Tamara Evans was nice enough to come out to the house and interview me for my speaking engagement at Medicine X and the Patient NeXt movement. I'll be posting a link for those outside the viewing area as soon as possible.

I'm also including a link to a fundraiser to raise the funds for the trip (Airfare etc...) Please consider donating if you have the ability. The Prosthetic Medic is going to Stanford!!!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking toward the future...

I'm contemplating taking on a new challenge. I have a few options that I am considering, all of which are very hard paths to walk down...especially for a one legged man. I'm ready to push to a breaking point again. I'm just not sure if I should go for the physically demanding route or the mentally demanding route.

Option 1:
I'm giving serious thought to joining either the Army or the Air Force; more than likely in the reserves. It is common thought that the military will not accept an amputee. I had thought this as well...but I was wrong. It turns out, especially with the advances in prosthetic technology, that I could join. It would take a very motivated recruiter, but it is a possibility. This would require me to learn to use my prosthetic to the max of its ability. I'm well aware of the challenges that I would face. I'm well aware that the prospect of failure is very high, but I have always regretted that I didn't join the military when I was "able."

Option 2:
Flight Medic...this is much more attainable. This route only requires me to lose weight and find an open minded flight service that is willing to take a chance on a paramedic that also happens to be an amputee. I've proven myself over and over again in this field, as far as ground transport I have realized that I'm capable of doing my job at the same ability I had prior to my accident. Flight is the next natural progression in my career.

Option 3:
Attempting to move from "weekend" activist to full fledged Amputee Activism. I've been blessed to be able to enter into some small venues to fight for our rights. I've spoke to the Kentucky State House of Representatives, I've been awarded a scholarship to attend Stanford Medicine X and then invited to participate in a panel discussion during the first day of the conference. I'm thinking of looking for further opportunities to speak and get the story out. Use my story as a jumping off point to show that with the right technology and determination there are very few limitations that can stop us.

Anyway, with the conference looming (just 26 short days away) I have been looking out toward the future and where to go from here.


Monday, August 19, 2013

PTSD, Setbacks, and Inspirations

PTSD is an odd affliction. You are fine one minute, then something triggers a full blown panic attack, can't breathe, have that feeling of impending doom. That's how my Saturday started. I got up for work, got dressed, put my leg on and headed out. That's when I got a whiff of a familiar scent, I can't explain it. All I know is that it in a matter of moments I was transported back to the bottom of that waterfall. Water rushing around me, that same pain shooting through my ankle, well...where my ankle used to be. After that, the rest of the day is crushed. I spent the entire day trying to seem normal, pretend nothing is wrong, and move on; all the while I feel like I'm in a tailspin and falling apart at the seams.

Although I am normally verbose, it's hard for me to explain the feeling that I am crumbling. I just want to disappear. I know my version of PTSD cannot compare to that of some others, I just find an odd correlation to how the brain can adapt and overcome many things, but every so often, the neurotransmitters line up and POOF! you're transported back and relive every excruciating moment over.

I think this episode has been building for awhile now. I'm dealing with an allergic reaction on my stump due to the liner that I have to wear with the prosthetic. I'm forced to only wear the leg for a few hours a day, and as soon as I put it on I break out in hives and start itching. This isn't your normal "I got bit by a mosquito" type of itching, this is the "if I had a belt sander I'd take off the top few layers of my skin to make this go away" type of itching. It's a miserable feeling. I try not to get into these negative places, I try to remain upbeat about my situation and just be thankful that I am lucky enough to be alive, not only alive, but walking and talking. By all means, I should be dead or paralyzed. There is no scientific reason that I survived that fall. I feel that the reason I am here is to help others, to blaze a path so that anyone else who walks this path has fewer obstacles to endure. Before my accident, another started this path. His name is Kevin Trees. Kevin is a police officer, like I did, he also chose amputation after several failed attempts to save his leg. Unlike Kevin, I made this decision much sooner than he did, he was immobile for nearly 3 years prior to amputation. Kevin has given me some great advice. Most days, we wake up and are just thankful for that blessing, yet there are some days when I get up and loathe who I am. Not who I am as a person, but who I am as a physical being. I don't want to put this prosthetic on, I don't want to be an amputee anymore, I'm angry that I've been placed into this position. I can't get up and take care of my infant son at night because it's not safe for either of us. Those are the types of things that enrage me...yet when I step back and look objectively I can honestly say...I'm alive. I shouldn't be but I in order to have earned this blessing I have to pay it forward. I have to attempt to lay the groundwork so that if anyone else wants to follow in either of our footsteps has an easier path. Thank you Kevin, because of you I knew that returning to work was a possibility. I hope that I can only be a quarter of the inspiration to others that you have been to me...

That's all for tonight...I'll update more as Stanford Medicine X gets closer.

Oh before I forget...I'm hoping to get the funds together to pay for the flight, rental car, and food for the trip...I may be hosting a fund raising event in the near future if other routes do not come to fruition.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Honored and Scared

I'm a little more than a month away from my trip to San Francisco. The final preparations are being made, hopefully, if finances come through I'll be booking my flight in the coming days. I haven't flown since my senior year of high school, much less traversed the maze of the TSA with a computerized limb attached to my body. I have many friends who travel much more than I do who have told me it's nothing to worry about, but I'm nervous none the less. This will be the first trip I have taken away from my family, my first trip as an amputee, and I'm most nervous about speaking to all of these people who are these influential leaders of industry and other ePatients who have had much more impact than I have. I've spoken to hundreds of people throughout my time as an amputee. I've been blessed enough to speak to the Kentucky House of Representatives, I've meet with other people facing similar situations as mine, I've been lucky enough to be able to do all these things
and now to be chosen as not only an ePatient, but to be part of a Panel discussion to further bring light to the importance of technology for amputees (both in social media as an outlet and way to connect and learn, but also in the function of our limbs).

As a patient who is going to be dealing with the healthcare industry and insurance companies for the rest of my life, I have learned the importance of fighting for what you need in order to be as productive as you can be. I look forward to speaking with the other ePatients and bringing our story to light.

I'll update you all more as the days progress.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Speaking for Patient NeXt...

Now that it has been added to the official Medicine X website...I have some great news. I have been asked to speak during the Stanford Medicine X conference in September. I will be part of a Panel Discussion entitled Patient NeXt. You can find some information here

The goal of this panel discussion is to examine what it means to be an active patient in your own healthcare, with an emphasis on how technology and social media can enact change. Both of these aspects are very important to me, lets face it, social media is one of the only reasons I am back at work. Without the power of social media, I would not have this prosthetic I am wearing now. I would not have had the leverage to change the mind of an internationally recognized Insurance company. As for technology, the technology advancements in the prosthetic industry have allowed me to return to work, allowed me to be an active father in my children's lives. Without technology I would still be the sedentary lump I had become prior to the amputation... I will keep you updated and look for many updates from the floor of the Medicine X conference.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pain is inevitable

I've been without Internet for awhile so the blog has suffered my long absence. Tonight I decided I had too much on my mind and would update you all via my phone. 

Things have been rough over the past 2 weeks. I had been making progress in leaps and bounds. I have been walking with my kids in the evenings, I started running (well my version of running, it's not pretty, but it is forward progress that's faster than walking), and was finally getting the motions to walk up the stairs step over step...until I was forced out of the leg. A few weeks ago I found a mass on my stump. It was the size of a golfball and painful. The doc grounded me to uniped status until it cleared up...well now I've been passed onto a surgeon who looked at me for 2 minutes and dismissed me to a dermatologist. Now I'm waiting for the dermatology appointment and getting fed up quickly....

As I began to fall deeper into my solace I got a phone call about Allie. I had the honor to meet a young woman who is a new amputee and try to show her that there is still a great life to be had as a uniped. With the right technology and the right determination nothing is impossible. I think she has the drive to accomplish anything and meeting her has renewed my passion for changing public opinion and political opinion of what an amputee is capable of. 

It's weird how things work out...I'm just like you....I wake up and put my pants on one leg at a time, the only difference is after I put my pants on, I put my leg on too...that's what I want to accomplish. It's a lofty goal. I know that not all amputees are as functional as others, life and health situations determine that. I just want to prove that you can be who you want to be and limits are only restrictions you place upon yourself. 
Yes, I'm mad as Hell that I've suffered this setback. Yes, there are days where I still get angry that I've been placed in this position. Some days I flat out hate being an amputee. Then, there are days where I realize that although I suffered a great injury, I'm doing very well for a man with a foot in the grave. I've been given a chance to change the world...with that I am reminded of two of my favorite quotes; so I will leave you with this...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi

And my personal favorite..
"Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional" - Irish proverb

Since you've stuck with me this far why don't you check out the blog of my Medicine X ePatient roommate Michael Weiss 

I'll be back with more as things develop and look forward to updating you from the MedicineX conference. 

Till next time...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stanford Medicine X Acceptance

A few months back I received a message from one of my readers "Afternoon Napper," they told me about the Stanford Medicine X Seminar and that they were looking for "ePatients." I decided I would apply to be one of their ePatients and see what happens....

Friday night I found out I was selected to participate in this years Medicine X program. After a very lengthy process I was one of the few applicants chosen to come out to Stanford University and be an patient advocate for the amputee community. The reason I was chosen is because of this blog. Thanks to my readers and the amazing support you all have given me, I now get to go represent other amputees. I'm still not sure exactly what I'll be doing yet, but I'm excited and honored none-the-less.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the selection committee to see if I have qualified for a scholarship to attend, if not I may have to have a fund raiser to help with the cost of travel and hotel stays. It's only 3 days, but I'm not even sure how much it would cost to fly from Louisville to Palo Alto. I'm getting ahead of myself, so for now I will end tonight with just saying I'm beyond blessed and just want to thank all of you for all the support you've shown and the amazing opportunities I've had because of it. Look forward to updating you about more details as they become available.

You can learn more about ePatients and the Medicine X program here....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Legislature, Baby, and Prosthetics

Been a busy few weeks here in Prosthetic Land...House bill 376 did not get through the Kentucky Senate. Although this is a setback, it is not the end. The fact that we were able to get it through the banking committee in the House and passed on the House floor shows that we have the support to get Prosthetic Parity in Kentucky. For those who haven't seen the previous post about the law, it's basic premise is to force private insurance companies in Kentucky to pay for appropriate prosthetic equipment as defined by the patient's doctor; instead of imposing a cap on either technology, money, or both to limit the coverage a person is able to get. As an example, the prosthetic that allowed me to return to work was only possible due to the pressure placed by those of you that called, messaged, or otherwise contacted Humana. They impose a limit on the type of prosthetic they will approve. My knee is deemed "experimental" because it has microprocessors. This type of technology has been around for years, but due to the cost of the prosthetic, they label it experimental and refuse to approve this amazing product for those who could use it most. Next legislative session we will be back, and be ready to fight even harder.

On the personal front Mrs Prosthetic Medic has returned to her throne behind the radio, dispatching at work. Liam and I have had a difficult time adjusting to being at home without her, but it's getting better.

I'm trying to get some prosthetic issues worked out. I've started to have some skin issues, while minor at the present, could pose serious consequences if they aren't dealt with quickly. My amazing prosthetic team is on the case, and assure me the problems will be fixed soon. This is yet another unforeseen complication of wearing a prosthetic. Skin breakdown is a huge problem, if it gets too bad, I'll be forced to not wear my leg until the skin is healed. This means missing work, since it's not a work related issue I won't be able to get a light duty position that would let me work without having to wear my prosthetic. My prosthetist has told me that this is a complication of wearing my prosthetic for extended periods of time, while doing very labor intensive work. In a few years, once the skin has adjusted this will no longer be an issue, till then I'm forced to find creative methods to deal with problem.

Progress is being made on the ever elusive book about this whole wild ride. I'm getting my thoughts organized and the first chapter is nearly complete. Well, It may be the first chapter. I'm just writing and will place things into place once it's fleshed out a little more. If there is anything you'd like to know, or think I should include feel free to let me know. I'm always open to suggestions.

Till next time.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Prosthetic Parity and New Jobs

The past week has been quite busy and exciting. The best news has to do with prosthetic parity. Currently, when insurance companies cover prosthetics in Kentucky they are filed in a category known as "durable medical equipment." This is the same category that covers crutches, wheelchairs, bedside commodes, etc...they generally pay $2500 - $5000 and disallow any computer assisted prosthetic. Just as with any insurance coverage some companies cover more than others. With House Bill 376 insurance companies would be forced to cover prosthetics the same as any other medical prescription. This would allow for amputees in Kentucky to receive higher quality prosthetics and cover the higher costs of these limbs. I'm sure you, as well as the legislators, are concerned with how this will effect insurance premiums, the great news is it would only raise insurance rates about 12 cents per member per month. For literally pennies a month, amputees could get the prosthetic they need to get back to a functional life. Wednesday a group of us went to Frankfort to the state capitol to testify in front of the House banking and insurance committee. The next step is for it to be voted on during the next house meeting, then onto the senate.

As for things going on closer to home...I interviewed for a supervisor position at my place of employment. I'm hoping to be the on ambulance supervisor. I also have applied for a flight medic position. I'm hopeful for the supervisor position, but have no idea if I'll be considered for the flight medic position. Given my weight and disability status, I'm not sure if they will consider me at all. As soon as I know more I'll update everyone on here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

4 News Spots in 1 day...that's gotta be a record!

 Yesterday was quite a busy day at work. Aside from the normal hustle and bustle of a Friday, I was interviewed by all 4 news stations in Louisville. The stories were focusing on my returning back to work as a Paramedic as an above knee amputee. It was very humbling for them to want to do this story, much less all 4 agencies running the stories simultaneously. Not too bad for a one legged medic. If you'd like to see the stories the links are provided below.

Until next time,


WLKY's News Story

WHAS 11's News Story

FOX 41's News Story

WAVE 3's News Story

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Update and News Coverage

As you can see from the post prior to this one, life has been a little busy here at the Prosthetic Medic homefront. We welcomed our son Liam to this world on January 2nd, he is a happy, healthy baby boy.

In other news Otto Bock has contacted me to do a follow up story about me now that I'm back to work. They are possibly going to do a ride along for a 24 hour shift with me to see what life is like for an amputee paramedic. I've been back to work for a little while now. I have ups and downs, I'm still waiting for my new socket. Looks like it will be ready on Thursday. I'm trying very hard to keep up with everything that's been going on, it just seems that as soon as I've taken a step forward I have to take one back. I'm happy that I have made it to where I am, I just hope that soon this process will feel more like nature. I'm still dealing with the fact that when I put on my prosthetic, it feels just like that, a prosthetic. Recently, I tried a new foot that took that feeling away somewhat. The foot is the iWalk by Biom. This foot mimics the response of the calf muscle and the achielles tendon. It's amazing to have a foot that will actually flex when I walk and assist by pushing my leg forward, the same as a "normal" person. This will be an amazing help at work, especially when walking up stairs, or pushing a patient on the stretcher. I'm quickly approaching my one year anniversary of losing my leg. I'll be posting more on that later...

I'll be back soon. For now I think I'll go feed the baby and enjoy some time with him and Kate.

Till next time PM

Introducing Liam!!!

Liam was born on January 2, 2013 at 0936. He was 9 pounds and 20 1/2inches long. Please help us welcome him to the world.